February 20, 2012

Come on Baby Light My Fire

I believe that fireplace mantels are one of the biggest decorating challenges out there. Even for seasoned professionals like me! Do you use a mirror? Should you only use pairs of accessories? Can I just fill it with family photos (no, by the way)?

One of the best things about a mantel is that it's easy to change when you are ready for a new look. They are also wonderful to have at Christmas! I love putting hanging a wreath above with lots of garland and filling them with "stuff".

This symmetrical arrangement is probably the easiest for you to do on your own, but can also be the most uninteresting if you're not careful. To me, just by breaking up those green balls with that starfish sculpture helps give this more interest. I love that the art is hung low. This helps "anchor" it to the mantel. The color combination is great between all the elements. Creating a synonymous feel is crucial so that one thing doesn't stand out. It all works so well together.
I really like the layered look of this arrangement. Leaning the framed photo in front of the mirror not only creates interest, but also gives this small, uninteresting mantel much needed detail. I prefer no more than three pieces of art done this way. The white containers, balanced on each side, is a great way to show a collection, but without the greenery they would be lost. They also used one of my favorite tricks. Using books to create height. Even those fit within the neutral color story.

This is a good place to talk about mirrors. I'm all for using a mirror, as long as it's reflecting something more than a fan or your white ceiling. The purpose of a mirror is to either look at yourself (which you can't do above a fireplace) or reflect something interesting. Please keep that in mind when deciding on whether to use a mirror or not.

Trim details are always a plus around a fireplace, especially when there are built-ins on each side. I love how the crown molding and trim creates an almost seamless transition between the fireplace and cabinetry. The arrangement on the mantel is also done well. The scale of the items are small and don't overwhelm the space. I especially like the little, red vases. I don't think there is anything about this look that I don't like. Very well done!

I've never been a fan of putting a television above a fireplace, but this one works for me. The recessed niche helps hide the television and the sconces on each side draw your attention away from the big, black box in the center. The accessories on the mantel are kept very simple and I do love the fern in front of the firebox. A great way to hide that other big, black box at the bottom. Always remember that most mantels are higher than you would normally mount a television and may be at an uncomfortable height for TV watching.

from Houzz

This final example is not exactly my personal taste, but does show a great balance of accessories. Each side has something different, but they are equally balanced. Not only with each other, but also the round piece on the wall. Three small items grouped on one side and one large item on the other. I also like the built-in shelves that seem to create an extension of the mantel by using the same wood and similar accessories.

It definitely takes some work to make your mantel a focal point, but keep trying. If all else fails, call your favorite designer to help.

Thanks for reading,

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